Since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, there have been a lot more opportunities for adults to retrain and change career paths by becoming an apprentice and learning on the job, whilst still earning a salary. These can be a great way of breaking out of the career path you’ve ended up in – or in my case, fallen into.
Like any college course or job, things aren’t always what they seem though. That’s not me saying don’t do an apprenticeship – actually I think they can provide great opportunities for people of all ages, but be wary. Some training providers aren’t all they are cracked up to and if your line manager or supervisor doesn’t have the time to support you, you can easily fall through cracks. I know of one training provider who plagarised another provider’s content – and yes, they were promptly ditched by the relevant employer.
Another thing to be aware of is trailblazers or new qualifications. Of course some people are going to have to be the first people through an apprenticeship programme or standard, but a programme or qualification which has never been delivered before is bound to have more than its fair share of teething problems. Even the lecturers and skills coaches are learning as they go, so it is going to make things that bit harder.
It can also be harder to complete an apprenticeship if you only work part time. A typical programme involves 20% off the job training – whether it’s as a block once every month or two, or one set day a week to work on the course. If you are part time, that drastically cuts down the available time to complete the study. If a programme requires 200 hours of training, and you are only working 20 hours a week rather than 40, it makes sense that it will take you twice the amount of time to complete. This shouldn’t be a barrier, it should just be something else to consider.
Overall, I do think the concept is a great idea, especially for people who wouldn’t have been able to do a £50 per week type of apprenticeship of old. I know of many people who have successfully gotten through their chosen programme and come out with new skills and qualifications which will drastically improve their CV and career prospects, but I do also know of people who’ve quit their apprenticeships through no fault of their own. Every case is different, and whilst I feel that this post may have a negative angle to it, I hope it doesn’t put people off entirely. What I want people to do is to know that these opportunities exist, but to investigate them fully before committing to anything. I know this doesn’t mean that you have any guarantees, but hopefully it will set you up with better chances of completing the apprenticeship and gaining the training and education you want.
I have various contacts with people who’ve done apprenticeships, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll try to get you some information!